Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sutton Testifies Before U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee

Testimony of Representative Betty Sutton, (D-OH13), on February 28, 2008:

“Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. I am very proud to have served on this Committee last year, and I’m pleased to join you once again to speak on budget issues of importance to Ohio ’s 13th District. The budget is a moral document. It is a statement of the values of our nation. It is the clearest way to see where a government’s true priorities lie.”

“That’s why I’m very concerned about the message that the President’s Budget sends to the American people. It does not invest in the most important long-term priorities in the country… it instead places a premium on investment in the short-term interests of a few.”

“At a time when working families are facing skyrocketing energy, health care, and education costs, the President’s Budget would cut critical programs that can help Americans through these tough economic times. Today I would like to discuss a few of these programs, which are vital to the people I represent in Ohio .”


“The state of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure was demonstrated in the most dramatic fashion possible, when the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River last August. In the face of overwhelming evidence of the need for increased investment in our infrastructure, the Bush Administration continues to pursue an open-ended policy in Iraq , while badly shortchanging infrastructure investments at home.”

“Tackling the repair of our nation’s infrastructure is not a glamorous task, but it is absolutely essential for our nation’s long-term success. The Minnesota bridge collapse and Hurricane Katrina are vivid reminders that these considerations are not theoretical. Investments in infrastructure are not just critical for public safety, but they also bring a significant boost to local economies and provide more Americans with good paying jobs.”

“The President’s proposed funding levels are fully $1 billion below the levels guaranteed by SAFETEA-LU. The Budget Committee should reject this funding level and renew our commitment to improving our national infrastructure.”

First Responders

“I would also urge the Budget Committee to reject the cuts the President has made to grants to local law enforcement and fire departments. Although the President has repeatedly stressed the importance of homeland security, he has left our first responders without funds that are critically important to the work they do in our communities every single day.”

“Firefighters in my district depend on Assistance to Firefighter Grants, which are used for equipment, training, and other projects to ensure they have everything they need to keep our families and neighborhoods safe. The President’s proposed funding levels would eliminate over $24 million in Fire Grants for the state of Ohio , which could result in 267 fewer grants awarded. He also eliminated formula funding for the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, which would result in 122 fewer police officers funded in Ohio .”

“Our first responders are out in our communities every day and have made a commitment to protecting our communities from harm. We in Congress must also make a commitment to our first responders, to ensure they have the resources they need to continue their critical work.”

Research and Development

“In order for the United States to continue at the forefront of innovation and technology, we must continue to support research and development. That these investments generate significant returns is abundantly clear, and not only will they result in advances in our scientific understanding, they will generate new jobs and help fuel our local economies.”

“The University of Akron , for example, is a world leader in polymer research, and the effect this research center has had on the Akron economy has been profound. I would encourage the committee to include robust funding for research and development in this year’s budget.”

Green Jobs

“In addition, this year, we have the opportunity to fund a newly authorized program that will help reinvest in American manufacturing, such as at the Avon Lake Ford Plant in my district, and help create Green jobs. This past December, we authorized the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program, which will be administered by the Department of Energy. This program will provide low-cost loans to automobile manufacturers to make substantial investments in their factories here in the United States . By funding this program, auto companies will have low-interest loans available to invest in engineering, component production and the retooling of existing factories to manufacture new, advanced technology vehicles such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids, advanced diesel and fuel cell cars.”


“We must always remember that the full measure of what we owe our veterans does not end after they leave the battlefield… our responsibility extends to what we provide for our soldiers once they return home. The President’s Budget does not provide adequately for the care of our veterans, providing $20 billion less than what is necessary to merely maintain its current purchasing power. It is unacceptable for the President to attempt to impose new fees on our veterans even though they have been overwhelmingly rejected many times before.”

“I am proud to say that I served on this Committee when we passed the largest increase in VA funding in American history. I urge the Budget Committee to continue its commitment to helping those who have fought so bravely and sacrificed in ways that many of us can never fully appreciate.”

Community Development Block Grant

“Finally, I would strongly urge the Budget Committee to reject the proposed cuts to the Community Development Block Grant. I cannot overemphasize the positive impact that CDBG funds have made on my district. With the foreclosure crisis driving many of my constituents out of their homes, and with so many Ohioans losing their jobs in recent years, CDBG provides funds to state and local organizations to address these difficulties.

It has created tens of thousands of jobs across the country, assisted families in finding affordable housing, and has been a catalyst for economic development.”

“A loss of nearly $30 million of these funds would deprive my district of funds that are critical for helping us move forward. It would be irresponsible to cut these programs that are intended to assist families who currently have the greatest need. When the Bush Budget arrived in Congress earlier this month, it was characterized as “dead on arrival.” And that’s because we have all recognized that President Bush is not listening to the American people. He has demonstrated a callous indifference to the needs of working class Americans that we must reject.”

“As one who has served on this esteemed Committee, I know that it is difficult to balance the many competing priorities before you. However, I urge you to keep the needs of working families in mind as you make your decisions. We cannot afford to turn our backs on them during these difficult economic times. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.”

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